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August 10, 2002

AUSTIN BAY finally has his own website -- but it needs a blog!

WANT TO KNOW WHERE HOMELAND SECURITY IS HEADING? Sadly, this may provide a pointer.

BIG MEDIA SLEAZE ALERT! The Washington Post has stolen the name "Talking Points Memo," well established by Josh Marshall, for a column by Terry Neal. Josh Marshall is not amused, and I don't blame him. Any copyright/trademark lawyers want to help Josh out?

MURDER AMONG THE GERM-WARFARE RESEARCHERS: Sounds like the plot of a thriller novel, but it's more than that.

TED BARLOW EXPLAINS why artists hate record labels, too.

EUGENE VOLOKH writes that a Slate Explainer piece entitled "Will Charlton Heston Have to Give Up His Guns?" appears to be wrong on the law. It's also in rather poor taste.

Volokh also provides a superb definition of the popular Blogosphere term "Fisking:" "a thorough and forceful verbal beating of an anti-war, possibly anti-American, commentator who has richly earned this figurative beating through his words." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Volokh also neatly capsulizes the history of the term: "The term refers to Robert Fisk, a journalist who wrote some rather foolish anti-war stuff, and who in particular wrote a story in which he (1) recounted how he was beaten by some anti-American Afghan refugees, and (2) thought they were morally right for doing so."

MY LUNCH WITH BERNARD LEWIS: Well, actually, it's Michael Steinberger's lunch, but it's still worth reading. Excerpt:

But Lewis is just warming up. Talk next turns to the Saudis. "Imagine," says Lewis, "if the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation obtained total control of Texas and had at its disposal all the oil revenues, and used this money to establish a network of well-endowed schools and colleges all over Christendom peddling their particular brand of Christianity. This is what the Saudis have done with Wahhabism. The oil money has enabled them to spread this fanatical, destructive form of Islam all over the Muslim world and among Muslims in the west. Without oil and the creation of the Saudi kingdom, Wahhabism would have remained a lunatic fringe in a marginal country."

Indeed. Except, of course, that if Texas were involved Europeans would be far more vocal in their condemnation, as would many American academics who seem unmoved by Wahabbism.

(Via Chris Bertram).

BAD NEWS FOR BMW: First Charles Johnson busted them for anti-semitism. Now Mickey Kaus says the Z4 is ugly as a monkey's butt.

SIX MONTHS SUSPENSION WITHOUT PAY for leaving anti-Muslim graffiti in the house of a suspect. Is that enough punishment for this Secret Service agent? It's nontrivial, but is it enough to get the message across?

UPDATE: In the comments, Brian Erst notes that the agent's name is still being kept secret. But why? Initially, it might have been because of doubt about his guilt, but that's over now.

If I were a criminal defense lawyer in a case involving the Secret Service, I'd ask if any of the agents involved in my case was the one who had done this. Every time. Because an agent who'd leave this sort of thing in a suspect's home might plant evidence, too.

HOW STUPID ARE BUREAUCRATS AND LEGISLATORS? Even dumber than you could have imagined.

IN THE SERVICE OF GAIA: Suman Palit has another post on the neocolonialist aspects of the global environmental movement, and the "eco-mercenaries" at work in the Third World.

DON'T MISS THE WAR ON DRUGS CLOCK. Your tax dollars at work. (Via The Daily Dose).

TOUCHING LAURA CRANE'S BREASTS in the name of homeland security. Sigh.

Anybody know where we can get some "Impeach Norm Mineta" bumperstickers?

August 09, 2002

CHEATING ON THE REDUCED-BLOGGING DIET: Okay, the last post was supposed to be the last. But then I ran across this Bugs Bunny-like prank at The Spoons Experience. Try it on an Islamist website today! And then I noticed that Junkyard Blog's Bryan Preston will be on Baltimore's WBAL radio tomorrow (Saturday) morning. There's a link for a live stream on his blog. Good night.

BLOGAPALOOZA: Alex Beam probably figured that everyone had forgotten his April Fool's boner by now. If so, he was wrong.

BLOG WARS: My reduced-blogging regime means that I missed out on a bunch of cross-blog debate regarding the war. You can go here to Tres Producers, then scroll down (and down, and down) and follow the links to get an idea of what's going on. Also IsntaPundit has a long post responding to one from Hesiod Theogeny (follow the link, then continue ad infinitum). And Nick Denton has a cautionary observation.

Regarding the William Van Alstyne excerpt below on the constitutionality of the war: Several people have asked where you can get a copy of the whole letter. I don't know -- he emailed it to me. I've responded to ask if he minds me putting the whole thing on the site, but I haven't heard back yet. There's nothing secret or anything -- it's public -- but I don't like to post whole letters between other people on the site without asking unless there's some very strong reason. It just seems a bit pushy.

QUESTION FOR SADDAM: Is this display supposed to: (1) Scare us; (2) Lull us into a false sense of security; or (3) Cause our troops to collapse into helpless laughter tinged with pity?

It's gotta be either (2) or (3), right?

CAREY GAGE has posted a response to Brad De Long's by-now-famous piece on lefties transitioning into righties.

UBERBLOGGER JOANNE JACOBS emails:

You guys will have to start praising NPR's superb judgment in selecting open-minded, thoughtful, intelligent commentators: I'm making my debut on "All Things Considered" today (Friday) at 5:20, 7:20 and 9:20 pm Eastern time with a commentary on the move to require all students to take college-prep classes. It looks like this will be a semi-regular free-lance gig.

Well, it's a good sign.

MARC HEROLD, author of famously bogus Afghan civilian casualty estimates, has resurfaced. But Bill Herbert is on the case.

UPDATE: Here's another response to Herold.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Bertram comments:

Who said that only the "bad guys" would get killed? Who believed them if they did? I can't recall anyone who said or believed any such thing. Those of us who thought (and think) that the Afghan war was just did so in the full knowledge that in any war innocents get killed.

Indeed.

MICHAEL BARONE says the Saudis are our enemies, and the Administration knows it -- regardless of public statements to the contrary.

IS INVADING IRAQ CONSTITUTIONAL? William Van Alstyne, a professor of constitutional law at Duke who I respect very much, has his doubts, as expressed in this letter responding to questions from the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he was kind enough to email me:

Third, and most recent among the resolutions you enclosed, is the express “Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces” by Congress, adopted on September 18, 2001, following the cataclysmic events of September 11. The authorization is quite current And it calls expressly for the use of U.S. Armed Forces “against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.” It is also framed in the following quite inclusive terms, in § 2(a), that:

[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

I nonetheless think it doubtful that this will “stretch” to cover a proposal to use military force to overthrow the government of Iraq as is currently being considered, without authorization by Congress, absent quite responsible evidence that Iraq was involved in “the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept.
11, 2001" --evidence that may exist but not that I have seen reported in the press or elsewhere. I note, respectfully, that the authorization is not an “open-ended” one to authorize the use of military power against any nations, organizations, or persons whom the President identifies as proper targets insofar as it would merely help in some general sense to “prevent” future terroristic attacks by such nations, organizations, or persons. Rather, it is to permit such uses of military power only with reference to those identified as having contributed in some substantial manner to the September 11th attacks, or known now to be harboring such persons.

Van Alstyne does allow that it's arguable that the 1991 declaration against Iraq might allow for such an act -- since, basically, that war never really ended -- but doesn't think that's the case.

An interesting argument, and certainly an argument that the broad view of the Bush Doctrine (criticized here by Bruce Ralston of Flit) won't pass constitutional muster. I generally agree with Van Alstyne on this, and on Executive use of force generally, though I note that our view of these issues has little in the way of judicial support, or Executive or Legislative support for that matter. Though I think the Framers intended otherwise, Presidents have generally enjoyed a lot of freedom where the employment of troops is concerned.

Still, if Bush were tricky, he'd call for a vote in Congress in October, before the election (so as to avoid having a "lame duck" Congress vote on such a momentous issue). I think this would work to his political advantage, as well as being faithful to the Constitution. But it's not the sort of thing that risk-averse White House political wonks want to do.

MY SPECULATION ABOUT WEST NILE VIRUS in the Knoxville area yesterday turns out to have been more true than I realized.

I think all the advice about long pants and DEET is probably silly, though. If it's abroad in the mosquito population, sooner or later you're going to get it. And when you do, it'll probably have no effect after which you'll be immune. So why fight it? Am I missing something here?

IF AMERICA WERE ASSASSINATING DISSIDENTS ABROAD, even more weenies would be calling for military action against the United States. But when Iran does it it's something to be kept quiet, apparently:

A prominent Iranian dissident living in Paris is charging that the Iranian government tried to kill him last month.

A man wearing a concealing hat and sunglasses entered the office of Arman Nouri, a Paris dental surgeon, on July 16, claiming to need emergency attention. Dr. Nouri says that the man lay down in the examination chair.

When the dentist turned around to wash his hands, the man stabbed him with a knife in the back, shoulder and stomach areas while shouting, “We warned you! We warned you!” . . .

The attempt on Dr. Nouri’s life is one of several incidents that indicate the Iranian government, in the face of widespread popular unrest, is increasingly cracking down against its political opponents.

This week, anti-government protests have been occurring in several major Iranian cities. While public attention worldwide has focused on the possibility that America will topple Iraq, one member of what President Bush has called the “Axis of Evil,” a little-noticed popular uprising against another Axis power, Iran, is building momentum.

The Iranian regime, which America considers the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, is apparently taking the challenge seriously enough to respond with violence. . . .

In February of this year, an attempt was made on the life of an Iranian dissident lawyer and Shiite Muslim cleric in Germany named Mehdi Haeri. A man visited Mr. Haeri with a briefcase containing brass knuckles, a knife and an electric shock device, claiming that a fatwah had been issued against him for his critical writings and his frequent assistance to Muslim clerics wanting to flee Iran as refugees to Germany. Luckily, Mr. Haeri had been alerted of the danger to his life before the assailer’s visit and police were on hand to arrest the man before he could attack. Mr. Haeri said German authorities have repeatedly warned him to keep quiet about what happened.

Yes, God forbid that word should get out. People might start expecting action.

MORE BELLICOSE WOMEN: John Lott writes about the growing trend toward armed women.

YOU AND WHAT ARMY? No, I really mean that! Adrian Hamilton is arguing for a European invasion of the United States, which he characterizes as a rogue nation.

Of course, while Euroweenies like Adrian want to invade America, American woman Sasha Castel is proving why they're not man enough, administering a Fisking that will have Adrian walking funny for a week.

"WEATHER FOR THE WEALTHY," observes Nick Schulz, "is never the same as weather for the poor." Which is why he -- like me -- wants to see the whole world become rich.

BRETT GLASS REPORTS that Denver is using antiterrorist measures to collect on traffic tickets.

It's a parody but probably won't be for long. That's usually how these things work.

Homeland security is a joke. And not a funny one, despite Glass's best efforts.

ARNOLD KLING says that Janis Ian is wrong -- not in her criticisms of the music industry, but in placing her faith in CDs as a means of distribution:

I think that her solutions will not work, because the problem with the music industry is much deeper. I think that the problem is that CD's are obsolete, and the music industry is trying to use the legal system to crush more efficient means for storing and distributing music. I believe that you cannot use a web site as a loss-leader for CD's, because CD's are an expensive storage medium compared to hard disks. You cannot charge 25 cents per download, because that would add up to overly expensive charges to the people who download most frequently.

I think that the solution will involve distributing massive quantities of music on hard disks, and allowing unlimited downloads for annual subscription fees. But this would radically change the role of the music industry, which it is not willing to accept.

He thinks the music industry will be bypassed in 5-10 years. My own experience cuts both ways on that front. My own record label, Wonderdog Records, sells CDs, but there's no question that more of our music was distributed by download than by CD. Our stuff (was) all over Napster, AudioGalaxy, etc. I'd be willing to bet that online distribution exceeded meatspace distribution by a factor of 100.

This didn't make us any money, of course (oh, it probably sold a few extra CDs, but it didn't make us any identifiable money) but since we're effectively a nonprofit operation that didn't matter. In fact, we actively encouraged people to make our tunes available on filesharing systems, since we and our artists understand that the point is to make the music available, not to make money for it. (Our artist contracts begin "It is understood that Wonderdog Records is not a normal record company.")

At the same time, though I get a lot of my music online, from independent artists who make it available for free, I still buy a lot of CDs. And I'm not thrilled with the idea of hard drives as the main residence of music: that kind of storage is too impermanent. I have CDs from almost 20 years ago. My mom has Louis Armstrong records from the 1920s, long before she was born. Who's going to have MP3s of the Tumblin' Sneakers song The Secret World of Charles Kuralt in 50 years? (Media junkies -- you must listen to this song, which is a hoot).

Maybe I'm wrong about that, but when I really like music, I want hardcopy, not just hard-drive copy. Perhaps there will be a technological fix. In the meantime, CDs have actually gotten pretty damned cheap -- until you factor in the markup needed to pay for record execs' cocaine and fancy cars.

And the DIY, more-or-less nonprofit approach to music may be what kills big labels, one tiny bite at a time. When you look at the people willing to operate rock clubs on an effectively nonprofit basis, you have to wonder: as the population becomes richer, and has more leisure time, perhaps all sorts of activities will move from the for-profit to the not-really-for-profit sector.

19 MILLION AFGHANS HAVE BEEN INNOCULATED AGAINST MEASLES since the Taliban were booted out, according to an article referenced in The Corner. This has saved 35,000 children from death.

I don't know for a fact that this is wrong, and I'm sure that quite a lot more Afghans have been vaccinated for all sorts of things since the Taliban were routed. (And, of course, there are the 12,000 or so that the Taliban would have killed, had they continued killing Afghans at their pre-invasion rate). But 19 million out of a population of 26.8 million seems like an awful lot. The best I can find are some stories saying that the campaign's goal was to vaccinate nine (not nineteen) million. Does anyone know if this figure is correct?

August 08, 2002

YOU CAN ONLY ADMIRE this kind of ingenuity -- though I'd expect no less from a blogger.

WHY GORE'S POPULISM worked best with the upper middle class. I find this fairly persuasive:

Remember, the insults hurled against Bush (I was one of the hurlers) were that he led a charmed life and everything was handed to him. Now think for a second, who would be most upset by a spot taken away at Yale? Would it be A) a truck driver for whom there is little differentiation between institutions of higher learning or B) the guy who still pissed off that he had to go to Brown, because he had no connections with the Yale admissions committee? Without going into the value of such arguments, think about all the argument against him and consider whose ire they raise.

Interesting.

UPDATE: Of course, there's also this explanation. Jeez.

RESPONDING TO AN EARLIER DECLARATION AGAINST THE WAR by a group of German intellectuals, a group of American academics and intellectuals (including Mary Ann Glendon, Jean Bethke Elshtain, David Gutmann, Elizabeth Fox Genovese, Samuel Huntington, James Q. Wilson, and a host of others) has written a response. There are also links to the earlier correspondence. Excerpt:

You describe the rise of Islamicist violence in the world as “a consequence of the instability of the balance of power in the present unipolar world order.” If we understand this viewpoint correctly, you are suggesting, at least in part, that if the U.S. and its allies had less power and influence in the world, and if states such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and other states in the Middle East and in the Muslim world had more power and influence in the world, then the world would become a safer, less violent place. Recognizing that many (though not all) of these states whom you regard as insufficiently powerful and influential in the world are run by unelected authoritarians who oppress their own people and frequently nurture and export the terrorist violence that now threatens the world, including the Muslim world, we disagree with your prescription.

Your letter raises the subject of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan. The subject is a serious one, which concerns us deeply, but your treatment of it is not serious.

It's basically a heavyweight group-Fisking.

WHY GUN OWNERS FEAR THE SLIPPERY SLOPE: A cogent explanation. If you're seriously interested in this subject, this law review article by Dave Kopel and Joseph Olson is worth reading, too.

CORPORATE WELFARE FOR HOLLYWOOD: Matt Welch says there's a lot of it.

EUGENE VOLOKH has an excellent post on why he's an optimistic libertarian. Well worth reading if you -- as I sometimes do -- have gotten depressed about the future of liberty.

DAHLIA LITHWICK writes about a man's right to choose in Slate. It's not a bad piece. I've got a piece on the back burner (I have a lot of those -- my scholarly rangetop goes into another timezone, but at least I'll never run out of things to write about even if I never have a new idea) called Male Procreative Autonomy that addresses these issues in more depth. There's rather a lot of hypocrisy, which Lithwick doesn't really address, in the juncture between the way abortion is treated ("my body, my choice!") and the way child-support is treated ("he got her pregnant, he should pay!"). Perhaps Richard Bennett will have something to say on this topic.

"WHO CARES ABOUT WEST NILE VIRUS?" Asks Rachel Lucas. Yeah, it's not exactly the Black Death. Though I wonder if it's not more widespread than people think. There's a "bug" going around here that involves a week of headaches followed by a couple of weeks feeling generally worn out and crappy. (I've had it; I'm on week 3). If it were West Nile, would anyone know? (And I haven't seen a crow in weeks. There were lots last year.) Probably nothing, but as I reach for the Tylenol, it's crossed my mind.

SWING TO THE RIGHT: John Rosenberg has a post that tries to explain the phenomenon Brad De Long writes about. And Nick Confessore emailed to say that I don't appreciate the tremendous, er, "discipline" of Republicans in DC and the groupthink that goes with it.

No, I don't. That's probably because (1) I'm not a Republican; and (2) I don't live in DC. But even when I did live in DC in the 1980s, I found Republicans more anxious to win converts, and Democrats more anxious to condemn political incorrectness. Perhaps that was just the crowd I ran with -- not everyone can be as openminded and welcoming as, say, Nick's old boss Bob Kuttner -- but perhaps not.

UPDATE: Reader Peter Weinstein says that it's all explained by this Mark Steyn column.

MARK STEYN agrees with Steven Den Beste that "stability" in the Middle East is overrated:

When Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, warns the BBC that a US invasion of Iraq would ‘threaten the whole stability of the Middle East’, he’s missing the point: that’s the reason it’s such a great idea. Suppose we buy in to Moussa’s pitch and place stability above all other considerations. We get another 25 years of the Ayatollahs, another 35 years of the PLO and Hamas, another 40 years of the Baathists in Syria and Iraq, another 80 years of Saudi Wahabbism. What kind of Middle East are we likely to have at the end of all that? The region’s in the state it’s in because, uniquely in the non-democratic world, it’s too stable. It’s the stability of the cesspit.

Indeed.

IN RESPONSE TO MY FOXNEWS COLUMN TODAY on guns and violence in England, several people have emailed to ask what has happened to violent crime rates in Australia since it enacted its draconian gun ban a few years back. I haven't studied that subject closely, but here is one story that suggests the Australian situation mirrors England's.

A READER CALLED THIS ADAM CLYMER STORY about Bob Barr "juvenile" and biased. I disagree.

Barr was handling a firearm at a party. It went off, though it's not entirely clear who accidentally hit the trigger -- Barr, or the host who handed it to him.

Clymer notes that they followed the most important safety rule, which involves making sure your weapon isn't pointed in a dangerous direction, but violated the others. I think he's right.

Personally, I wouldn't bring out firearms for handling at a party anyway. Too many people around, too high a likelihood that someone has been drinking. But jeez, if you're going to, you need to be sure they're unloaded and safe -- and the person being handed the weapon has that responsibility every bit as much as the person handing it to him. I heard Neal Boortz making these points on the radio yesterday, and he was absolutely right.

VIA ELECTROLITE I found this post by Brad De Long on the way in which neo-liberals are transformed into neocons.

I posted something along these lines in an Electrolite comment, but it's worth expanding on a bit here. Patrick's post calls this process "seduction," but it's seduction in the way that a man whose wife constantly checks his collar and screams at him is eventually "seduced" by another woman. It's as much a push as a pull.

I see this all the time as someone whose views straddle the left-right divide. I disagree with the Christian bloggers on most of their core issues; probably the only thing we're in full agreement on is that the Catholic Church's behavior in covering up its sex scandal has been shameful. We're at odds on cloning, on abortion, and often on birth control and evolution, though the Christian bloggers aren't as unified on those last two issues. But they're always polite.

On the Left, though, we find all these pseudonymous name-calling bloggers whose specialty seems to be abuse aimed at those deviating from the party line. De Long isn't one of those, of course, but this line from his post bespeaks a certain tribalism: "There's still time for Kaus to return to his neoliberal roots."

As the old saying has it, the left looks for heretics and the right looks for converts, and both find what they're looking for. The effect is no doubt subliminal, but people who treat you like crap are, over time, less persuasive than people who don't. If people on the Left are so unhappy about how many former allies are changing their views, perhaps they should examine how those allies are treated.

ERIC BOEHLERT'S invocation of the Arab News to bash James Taranto was dumb. But his coverage of the radio and record industries has been great. Here's his latest effort. This is good too.

SOME QUESTIONS ANSWER THEMSELVES -- like these, asked by Howard Kurtz, regarding the child-snatching hype:

Are we all in the exploitation business?

Are journalists basically vultures who pick at the carcasses of tragedy victims?

And are politicians also getting into the act?

Three guesses -- and the first two don't count, as we say around these parts.

INSTAPUNDIT'S FIRST ANNIVERSARY: Click here and scroll up to see what was going on a year ago.

REMIND ME AGAIN why the United Nations is regarded as having any moral authority:

Patients at United Nations mental institutions in Kosovo have been raped and physically attacked under the eyes of UN staff, held in "filthy and degrading" conditions, and threatened with punishment if they report the abuses, according to a damning investigation published in New York yesterday.

In one case, a woman patient was raped after UN employees locked her in a room with a male patient because they wanted to "calm her down", while employees who observed another rape in a hallway said they did not intervene because the victim "must have asked for it", according to the independent campaigning group Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI), which produced the report.

"This is a pervasive pattern of serious abuses. The rule of law simply does not apply within these psychiatric facilities," Dr Eric Rosenthal, MDRI's founder, said yesterday. "We found extreme, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention and the physical and sexual assault of women, and we received a blanket denial from the authorities." . . .

Two former patients there, along with a physician working for another organisation, were also threatened by a staff member to prevent them revealing that the staff member had had sexual relationships with the two patients, the report said.

Where are the people whose cries of outrage we heard over Guantanamo?

UPDATE: Reader Insta Punditwatch emails that this story comes from George Soros's Open Society Institute and that it complained about Guantanamo. I don't remember that, but OK. With bated breath, I await similar complaints from Amnesty, Chris Patten, and almost the entire Euro press.

GEITNER SIMMONS has some observations regarding the Saudis and nuclear weapons.

They're not our friends. And they're trying to get nuclear weapons. What does the Bush Doctrine say about that?

PATRICK RUFFINI is riffing on the theme of populism -- in politics, in real estate, and in the blogosphere. Nice job.

PEOPLE IN NEED OF A CLUE: An apparently endlessly continuing series.

MY FOXNEWS COLUMN IS UP: It's a review of Joyce Malcolm's book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience.

August 07, 2002

NEWS from Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Fred Pruitt is on a roll.

RYAN OLSON SAYS the future is now. And he appears to be coping with Future Shock very sensibly.

JAMES MORROW has found another thread on the ClearGuidance.Com website, this one threatening President Bush. The poster, Abu Dujanah, appears to have uploaded a photo of himself with the post, which should make life easier for the Secret Service.

Of course, ClearGuidance is probably another sting operation designed to lure gullible Islamists with terrorist aspirations into giving up their identities, after which it will turn into something entirely different.

UPDATE: ClearGuidance appears to be taking this stuff down, or at least requiring a member login to view it. I've saved a copy of the page in question, though, in case any authorities are interested.

WOULD INVADING IRAQ DESTABILIZE THE MIDDLE EAST? Maybe, says Steven Den Beste, but "that's not a bug, that's a feature."

Hmm. Well, things are dreadful there now. Stability is the absence of change, meaning that so long as the situation is stable, things will stay dreadful. And we don't want things to stay dreadful, do we?

Actually, some people do. But that's because they're comfortable with the current dreadfulness, since it either doesn't affect them, or redounds to their benefit. How, exactly, does this justify a pose of moral superiority?

STEREOSCOPIC VISION: PostWatch is now joined by WashPostWatch.

THE MOVING FINGER WRITES: Mickey Kaus: Dupe? Or fearsome unleasher of elite hackers? You decide. But be sure to click through to the new and improved Jihad website that he references. Chortle.

What would Bugs Bunny do? Something like this, doc.

UPDATE: Here, courtesy of a reader, is the Google cache of what used to be there. Double chortle. Or as Bugs would say, "What a buncha maroons!"

THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW went pretty well. I love radio, not least because you can do it from home with your shoes off. He's looking for lefty bloggers to add to his stable of guests. I recommended Ted Barlow and Josh Marshall. If you've got suggestions, you might want to contact him through his site. Of course, it's a bit hard to recommend people for the radio when you've never heard them speak. . . .

I'M GOING TO BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S RADIO SHOW in a few minutes. Here's the link for live streaming.

ERIC OLSEN weighs in again on the Searls/Winer/Denton/Reynolds/Devon war debate. And scroll down for an earlier installment I somehow left out.

NOT INDIVISIBLE: Brad Knickerbocker reports on prospects for splitting the Ninth Circuit in two. Personally, I think it's past time -- it's a huge and unwieldy court. The old Fifth Circuit was bigger in terms of square miles before it was split, but I doubt it had as many people, and I'm sure it didn't have as many cases.

THE INDEPUNDIT reports that Iran's mullahs are using "Arab" muscle to put down riots, and suspects that they are fugitive Ladenites now doing mercenary duty.

Sounds like desperation to me.

BIG BOOBS: Homeland Security remains a joke.

INSTAPUNDIT SPY SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS U.S. war preparations underway in Qatar.

Well, okay, it's not exactly an InstaPundit spy satellite, but that just sounded too cool to pass up.

NEW ADVENTURES IN HOMELAND SECURITY: Fishermen are blaming terrorists and aliens for a shortage of smallmouth bass. Hey, whatever excuse works:

Homeland Security Department To Oversee Protection of Fisheries

Washington DC, August 7 2002. Following reports of a recent panic by Midwestern anglers regarding the possiblity that Iraqi agents were responsible for a sudden disappearance of Smallmouth Bass from rivers in the region, Tom Ridge, the Head of the new Department of Homeland Defence, called a press conference.

"I am here to announce that the Department of Homeland Defence is making the protection of our nation's waterways a top priority" said Ridge. "No longer will our fisheries be held hostage by the forces of evil. Effective immediately, metal detectors will be placed at points of access to all waterways. All sportsmen will be searched before being allowed to proceed to the water. Absolutely no weapons, including firearms, knives, scissors, nail clippers, d-barb tools or hooks will be allowed near the water. The Department of Homeland Security has annexed the Fish and Wildlife Division in order to facilitate this process."

Reporters questioned Ridge as to whether such steps might be an inconvenience to sportsmen.

"This is no time for half measures." replied Ridge. "These actions are for the safety of all, and we have no doubt that sportsmen will support such steps as part of the War on Terrorism. Further, we don't believe these procedures will be a problem. With careful planning we hope to insure that fishing is as safe and hassle-free as air travel.

The Secretary closed by advising that "sportsmen show up at the water two to three hours before the planned time of fishing, so as to allow for screening."

Lawyers for suspected terrorists, meanwhile, will no doubt accuse the government of going on a . . . . fishing expedition! All groan together, please.

Note to the reader who sent this: Yes, I took the bait.

"WHEN WE ARAB-MUSLIM STUDENTS CAME TO AMERICA FOR STUDY, WE HAD NO IDEA THAT WE WOULD BE FORCED TO MINGLE WITH JEW STUDENTS AND TAKE INSTRUCTION FROM JEW TEACHERS. THIS IS OFFENSIVE TO US since it is well known that the Jews are the most corrupt and violent people on Earth." From a poster put up by Arab students at Florida Atlantic University, via Justin Weitz.

UPDATE: In Context says the University denies that it's from an official group, but hasn't denounced it yet.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League says the flier is a hoax -- though such fliers were actually posted on campus. That doesn't make much sense, but I guess they mean they don't think it was actually posted by "Arab-Muslim students." Well, good. Though they should throw the book at whoever did post it, if they find them. We don't need that kind of stirring-up of trouble. Though sadly, after the SFSU flyers, which weren't a hoax, this was pretty believable.

DON'T LIKE THE IDEA OF THUGS FROM BIG ENTERTAINMENT HACKING YOUR PC? Then go here.

WELL, THIS IS ENCOURAGING: Missing laptops at the U.S. Central Command, which is coordinating the Afghan war.

MEETING THE CHALLENGE: HappyFunPundit is proving that warbloggers are better than anti-warbloggers even when it comes to thinking up arguments against the war. Read this post:

Saddam isn't planning on fighting a conventional war against the United States. He tried that the last time, and the "Mother of all Battles" turned out to be the mother of all embarassing routs. Saddam is nuts, but he's not stupid. He won't make that mistake again.

So what's he going to do? The above quote is telling. My personal belief is that he is going to fight a war of world opinion. He's learned lessons watching Arafat fight a much larger opponent. He'll sacrifice his cannon-fodder troops who are not loyal enough to be allowed to crowd into the cities with him anyway, and when they are gone (surrendering quickly, my guess), he'll pull his remaining army of maybe 100,000 loyalists into his heavily fortified and stockpiled cities, and force the U.S. to dig them out one building at a time. In the meantime, he'll pull an Arafat, appearing on TV regularly surveying destroyed buildings, with plenty of bodies of children scattered around for effect. He'll play the martyr card, big time.


Think about the difficulty Israel is having with world opinion just trying to remove a few terrorists from the West Bank and Gaza. Now imagine if the Palestinians had 100,000 soldiers, the resources to reinforce buildings, set up machine gun nests and tank traps, and build warrens of interlocking tunnels under the city. That's what the U.S. will face in Baghdad, assuming it doesn't collapse from within. Throw biological and chemical weapons into the mix, and you have a potential disaster.

The danger for Saddam (and the Iraqis) is that the likes of Chris Patten have caused the United States not to care nearly as much about world opinion as it used to. It's also doubtful that Saddam can actually find 50,000 people who will stay loyal to him once the war is actually under way.

But this is a lot better than playground references.

UPDATE: Jim Henley has more.

CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF (which, inconveniently, was inspired by Kevin McGehee's statement that he would be on hiatus until September) Kevin McGehee reports that Flyover Country is not on hiatus until September, it's just in "Flyover Lightly" mode. Don't miss the story about the FBI informant wearing a wire who wound up recording the WTC attack.

THE CONDI RICE JUGGERNAUT is in motion.

KEVIN HOLTSBERRY has a survey of arguments for and against war in Iraq.

OVER A YEAR AGO, before InstaPundit was even a blog, I advised the White House to pursue a stream of Clintonesque mini-initiatives. Now TAPPED is complaining that he's doing just that. Advantage: InstaPundit!

UPDATE -- PEOPLE IN NEED OF A CLUE: I got this email from "Insta Pundit Watcher," with the subject line "'advicing' the White House:"

Hello Glenn,

You bragged:

OVER A YEAR AGO, before InstaPundit was even a blog, I advised the White House to pursue a stream of Clintonesque mini-initiatives. Now TAPPED is complaining that he's doing just that. Advantage: InstaPundit!

No you didn't. You didn't meet with Bush or any of his advisors, you didn't have contact with an administration official, you just posted a small article on a web discussion board.

Uh, yeah. And the whole post was, you know, tongue-in-cheek. Not to be taken seriously. Kinda like -- oh, hell, never mind. What's the point?

CHARLES JOHNSON has found something really disturbing. It's a website featuring a chatboard for Islamic youth where they talk about murdering and decapitating jews, complete with supporting Koranic authority. Some are in America, and Canada. Excerpt:

hmmmmm has anyone here seen rushthroat?? where the mujahideen get a knife stab it into a jews throat and rips da head off and the jewz making all these sick

Another:

i'm gonna try this on some jew right now LOL

Charming.

UPDATE: Just saw that James Lileks has written about this too. His piece is long, sensitive, and moving, everything that my post isn't. Go read it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:

The comparison for me to the Clearguidance.com chat room would be the various white supremacist web pages and chats (who are often equally convinced that God is on their side). The comparison between White Supremacists and Islamic Fanatics is perfectly apropos...

Yes, and they get along pretty well, actually. Except that White Supremacists can't play the multiculti card.

DEBUNKING THE J-BOMB: Angie Schultz, a physicist with an interest in the history of the atomic bomb, is even more skeptical than me about The Independent's report that the Japanese were "days away" from an atomic bomb at the end of the war.

They would have liked to have been, and there's some evidence that the Germans were trying to help them (the U-234 was carrying uranium, and some technicians, to Japan when it was intercepted at the end of the war; the uranium was reportedly added to the U.S. effort and wound up in the Hiroshima bomb). But "days away?" She's doubtful. Their biological warfare program, which was far more advanced, was a bigger threat and in fact killed a nontrivial number of people in China.

READER SEAN DOUGHERTY WRITES:

Maria Cantwell cashed in her RealNetworks stock just before the market crashed to finance her successful senate run in Washington. Now, the company is making layoffs. So having harvested the value from the company and turned it into a six-year guaranteed contract, is Cantwell being called to account like Bush and Cheney for what happened to the employees she left behind?

Where's the outrage? Why isn't she "Senator Lay?"

Maybe she can testify along with Martha Stewart.

UPDATE: Reader Travis Matthews says that Dougherty's wrong, and sends links to prove it. Cantwell borrowed against her shares, which then plummeted in value. She probably wishes now that she'd sold them, but that's not the same thing.

DIANE E. asks some questions of the peace movement and (scroll up) answers some as well.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus has a long and thoughtful post chiding those who claim that support for war against people who are trying to kill us is chest-thumping jingoism.

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN IS UP! You'll have to go there to find out the answer to the Blazing Saddles - quote question I posed earlier. But here's the gist:

For years now, I've been saying that the record industry's long-term legislative strategy had less to do with preventing copying than with sewing up the market to ensure that Big Entertainment companies won't have to worry about competition from independent artists. It looks like I've just been proven right. . . .

What they're trying to do is to create a system that's not so much proof against copying - a mostly impossible task anyway - as a system that's very unfriendly to content that comes from anyone other than Big Media suppliers. It's not about copying. It's about competition.

MARTIN DEVON is echoing a question of my own: why are the arguments offered by those opposing the war of such generally poor quality? I can make up better, more coherent arguments against the war than those who seem to have made it their mission to oppose it. (Fortunately, thanks to Jim Henley, I don't have to). In Martin's words:

Part of the reason that the New York Times' approach to the coming Middle East war annoys me is because there are plenty of real questions to be asked without manufacturing fake dissent. From what I can tell, the real issue that troubles liberals about starting a war with Iraq (or Iran, 'Saudi' Arabia and Syria) is that it does not fit into their rule-based worldview. . . .

Yes, let’s have a debate. Do the bigwigs at the New York Times think that we should sit idly by while Saddam acquires weapons of mass destruction? If they don't trust law-abiding citizens with handguns, why do they trust unbalanced dictators with nuclear weapons? How do they propose to keep America safe from attack?

Unfortunately, I think too much opposition to the war (like much support for gun control, as well) is cultural, not intellectual. The New York Times editorial board takes these positions because they feel they're the positions people like them are supposed to take. Thus, no actual argument is really necessary. I think this explains why people will call warbloggers blustery warmongers, even when they ultimately turn out not to disagree all that much on the issues. It's just so, well, not done, to actually say things like that, whether or not they're right.

I love Martin's opening quote, too.

GORE'S A LOSER, BUT . . . HILLARY'S LOOKING BETTER! That's what Mickey Kaus is saying, anyway.

August 06, 2002

ANOTHER POST (ACTUALLY TWO) I DON'T HAVE TO MAKE: DOC SEARLS chronicles a drawn out debate (so I don't have to) over the war that started with Nick Denton's post on the need to shock Islamists with utter defeat, continued with Dave Winer making some comments about warmongering and playground bullies, and descended from there.

The problem, essentially, is that Dave came into this debate late, and he's not up to speed. He's a smart guy, God knows, and as entitled to an opinion as anyone, but a lot of people have been wrestling with these things in somewhat more depth. Vague, general statements about playgrounds and bullies are merely inapt analogies, not arguments. You can make an intelligent argument against invading Iraq. And -- here's the other post I don't have to make -- Jim Henley has done so. I think he's wrong, but it's a question of the weight you assign to various factors, which is something about which reasonable people can differ.

I don't really like the term "warblogger" and my use of it in reference to Nick Denton's original post was somewhat ironic, since Nick himself was rather skeptical of the war for a long time. But Nick's been thinking about the war, and blogging about the war, in a way that Dave hasn't been, so it's not really enough just to dismiss him with an inapt analogy.

Doc's take on the subject, once we get away from accusations of blowhardism aimed at warbloggers, is actually pretty much in line with what I think most warbloggers believe:

At its best, war is a lesser evil. That's it. If you have to crush a regime and its armies to end the far worse things they've been doing — as we did to Japan and Germany in World War II, and to the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan — your actions are entirely justifiable in the death-for-death and misery-for-misery moral economics of war. Inflict a lesser misery to end a greater one. End of story.

And that, exactly, is the story George W. Bush is trying to tell, apparently with insufficient success. But bless him for trying to do the right thing for the all the people involved, including the citizens of Iraq. . . .

What groups is it most okay to kill? And how does that okayness vary with our distance and difference from them?

The "warblog" crowd is hardly a testosterone-drenched bunch of Rambos. Personally, I'd love to live in the pre-September 11th world, when seemingly all we had to worry about was who had the best abs at the Video Music Awards. But that world, as it turned out, was a fool's paradise, as people were in fact plotting to kill as many of us as possible just two days later.

In answer to the last questions: What groups is it most okay to kill? The ones who want to kill us. And how does that okayness vary with our distance and difference from them? Not a hell of a lot. But there are a lot of people who currently believe that it's their divine mission on Earth to kill as many Americans as they can. And they think that's okay because of the "difference" they see in America.

Odd, then, that it's people who point this out who are accused of intolerance and warmongering.

THE INDEPENDENT SAYS that Japan was days away from testing its own atomic bomb when the war ended.

This comes as, to put it mildly, news to me. But it's certainly from a source that doesn't usually exert itself to come up with pro-American story lines.

WELL THESE GUYS are against invading Iraq. And they're in my referrer IDs. Yuk. Go away.

I'D BEEN MEANING TO POST ON THIS. But (as you may have been able to tell) I've been trying to do a bit less blogging during this lull in news. I'm trying to let my tortured back and joints recover from a year of too much computer time. Anyway, now I don't have to. Via Jim Henley I found this post by Charles Dodgson regarding the New York Times Magazine's piece on star-creation and the music industry. The conclusion is priceless.

ANN SALISBURY emails that Blue Streak has identified some examples of media bias in the Newdow case. Which, for those of you who have (perhaps understandably) already forgotten, is the case involving the Pledge of Allegiance that generated such a flap a while back.

STEVEN CHAPMAN TAKES ON U.N. HYPOCRISY:

And to think that a whole swathe of wet leftie know-nothings (including Assad's man in the UNGA) called Jenin an instance of Israeli 'brutality.' Do any of them really know what brutality looks like? Were Israel to act like just another Middle Eastern shitpile, there wouldn't be a terrorism problem in Israel because there wouldn't be any terrorists because they, and their families, and their neighbours, and their neighbours' neighbours would all be dead or deported to Jordan. Why send in the IDF on foot into Jenin going from house to house when they could simply have used the Assad method: encircle the town with tanks and artillery pieces and simply reduce it to rubble? Why bother with the specific targetting of militants when it would be far more thorough to simply do what the Kuwaitis did after the Gulf War, and expel a few hundred thousand Palestinians? When Israel occupied Lebanon there was outraged condemnation. Now that Syria occupies Lebanon no one is interested. While Hafez al-Assad was flattening Hama, the UN were too busy fulminating about the IAF's attack on Iraq's nuclear reactors to notice.

And in spite of this, Boy Assad's lackey is able to pontificate in the UNGA meetings as though he were Gandhi's fucking star pupil. That's what I hate about the UN.

Yes, and I notice a certain selective indignation among the U.S. "peace" crowd, too. And if you point out that Arab nations, almost without exception, act horribly, you get the usual bogus accusations of racism in response.

One thing I admire about Chapman is that, though he's opposed to most of the U.S. war effort, he's not an apologist (or blind-eye turner) for dictators who happen to be anti-Western, the way that so many self-styled "peace" activists seem to be.

THE NATIONAL POST EDITORIALIZES that Amnesty International is becoming irrelevant because of its knee-jerk anti-Western stance and focus on relatively trivial issues. I think that's about right, and I think it's too bad.

PAUL O'NEILL can't catch a break. Just last week he was being savaged as ruthless by NPR for worrying about whether a Brazil bailout would do any good. Now he's savaged as hypocritical by TAPPED for thinking that bailing out Uruguay might be worth it.

WHEN I GET EMAIL that copies other people, I usually don't respond. But Steven Den Beste got this letter, too, and he did respond, at length.

BELLESILES UPDATE: While Emory dithers (and, some suspect, tries to figure out how to sweep the whole affair under the rug) other historians are trying to learn from Bellesiles' . . . mistakes. Here's a syllabus on historical methods in which students are to use Michael Bellesiles' Arming America as a case study.

CYPRUS IS getting tired of a Palestinian "militant" it took in as part of the Church of the Nativity stand-down. Seems the guy is dangerous, causes trouble, and won't abide by the agreements he made.

Go figure.

(Via Zachary Barbera).

SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE EMAILED ME about this proposal from Frederick Turner regarding the WTC rebuild. There's an interactive demo, too. I like the roof, best.

JOSHUA CLAYBOURN has thoughts on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

UPDATE: Some suggest that the lesson here is the one that a (horrified) Times writer spelled out: "Kill Americans, and you're dead meat."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oops. It's by Paul Musgrave, not his fellow HR'er Josh Claybourn. Claybourn sent me the link, and I didn't notice that he hadn't written the post.

QUAGMIRE ALERT: Eric Alterman is making the Vietnam analogy quite explicitly.

The problem with Vietnam, however, was not that it was a bullying assault on a small, inoffensive country, as some "peace" protesters (who minded not at all that North Vietnam, with the support of the Soviets and the Chinese, was mounting an assault on a small inoffensive country) maintained. It was that we didn't win. We didn't win because we weren't serious about winning, serious enough to depart from business as usual, serious enough to tell the country we were in a war, serious enough to do what it took to win.

We weren't willing to do what it took to win because we feared (probably wrongly, but who knows?) that the Russians or the Chinese would intervene if it looked like we were going to win big, and they were possessed of huge armies and nuclear weapons.

So, the question raised by the Vietnam analogy here is: Are we serious about winning? And who, exactly, is going to intervene on a massive scale to stop us if we look like we're going to win big?

RICHARD COHEN IS MAKING SENSE! (Hey, maybe he'll get a show on MSNBC. . . .) Excerpt:

In 1962 Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser used poison gas in a now-obscure war in Yemen. Twenty years later, President Hafez Assad of Syria crushed a rebellion by bulldozing much of the city of Hama and killing anyone who got in the way. That same decade, Saddam Hussein of Iraq used poison gas against his enemies. The Middle East is a tough neighborhood.

It goes without saying that had Israel fought its Arab foes the way they themselves do, the world would scream bloody murder and bureaucrats at the United Nations would get carpal tunnel syndrome banging out condemnations. What's more, tasteless references would be made to the Holocaust and how -- such irony -- the victims had turned oppressor and were using the methods of their one-time enemy.

The fact is, though, that Israel has largely eschewed such methods. It fights hard and sometimes ruthlessly -- assassinations, for instance -- but it has generally adhered to Western standards of warfare. It has the only army in the Middle East in which reservists have refused to serve for reasons of conscience -- an option I wouldn't recommend to any soldier in any Arab army. Israel, it can be argued, has the "most humane army in the world."

Now where have I read that kind of thing recently?

JANIS IAN has posted a followup to her earlier piece on Internet music. It's well worth a read.

My TechCentralStation column for tomorrow also looks into the question of what the record companies are trying to accomplish. I have a bonus Blazing Saddles reference, too. Contest: can you guess which line from the movie I invoke? (Former students are disqualified from participating).

INSTAPOWER, BABY! After repeated requests by this site, Michael Moore is on the Ted Turner case! And he's even linking the original InstaPundit post. Go get him, Mike. Could Doonesbury be next?

And in a lovely Internet-related event, I first heard about it from an InstaPundit reader in The Netherlands. But of course!

UPDATE: Reader Ian Schmidt points out that Moore has now pulled the InstaPundit link from his post on Turner, and says "Must've angered some of his 'progressive' readers." Now I ask you, is that nice? If I were Moore, I'd probably try to claim that pulling the link somehow proves that we've descended into Fascism under Bush and Ashcroft. But he can link to whoever he wants. Or not. And I can razz him for it. Fair's fair.

THE MINUTEMAN says that Kaus is "burying" Krugman -- but that if Kaus read more blogs he'd be doing even more damage.

LOBBYIST HATE MAIL! Well, not really. But lobbyist Ken Bryer takes exception to my post below on special Capitol Hill access for lobbyists:

Ah, lobbyists: the one profession even lawyers can bust on.

Have to disagree with you here. We lobbyists have business before the Congress that takes us there frequently. It's a waste of time and resources to search lobbyists like the vast unknown infrequent guests who come to the Capitol. Should airline pilots and crew have to go through security and customs every single time they de-plane?

I don't think I have an unrealistic view of lobbyists. I was one myself when I was practicing law in Washington (though my firm delicately called such activity a part of its "Washington policy practice" rather than using the L word). But while it's a bracingly honest admission to analogize lobbyists to the pilots of aircraft, they aren't actually supposed to be the ones at the controls.

Bryer makes the absolutely valid point that Americans are represented by lobbyists in lots of entirely productive and reasonable ways. Just about everyone belongs to multiple groups (from the ACLU to the NRA to, ugh, the AARP) that lobby.

My dislike of the special-access provision, I guess, was founded in the belief that security precautions (most of them largely cosmetic anyway) are intrusive enough. If the bigshots get a pass, they'll never get any better. If Jack Valenti has to stand in line, at least members of Congress will hear complaints out of the mouth of someone whose commands they are used to following unquestioningly. Instead of just from, you know, constituents.

UPDATE: Then there's this perspective. . . .

HERE'S A REPORT FROM CNET on the NSF convergence report that was the topic of my TechCentralStation column a couple of weeks ago. If my column didn't inspire you to read through all 405 pages of the report, this piece provides a pretty good summary.

The usual-suspect-critics, like Bill Joy and Jeremy Rifkin, are also heard from, saying the usual things. Leon Kass, however, isn't mentioned.

RANTING SCREEDS offers a cautionary note about war in Iraq that's worth reading. I confess, though, that it took me a moment to focus on the substance of his post, so great was my astonishment that a pinpoint permalink on Blogger actually worked.

SPECIAL ACCESS FOR LOBBYISTS? The Hill is reporting that lobbyists want a "frequent visitors' card" to give them quick passage through Congressional security, and that some members of Congress are interested in helping them out.

TAPPED doesn't much like the idea, and neither do I. It's bad enough that so many members of Congress are bought and paid for by special interests. Now they want to skip the lines, too?

Somehow, I don't think the Republic will suffer if Jack Valenti has to cool his heels waiting to pass through a metal detector.

AL & JOE'S MESSY DIVORCE: Howard Kurtz is loving this catfight, and wonders why the rest of the media isn't all over this story:

Joe Lieberman, poking his former patron in the eye. Al Gore, elbowing back with a New York Times screed.

Doesn't get much better than this, folks.

We're surprised the press isn't making a big, huge, noisy deal about the finger-pointing between these ex-allies. Maybe reporters are too busy searching for the latest plans to invade Iraq.

How often, after all, does a running mate dis the candidate who picked him – especially when said running mate wants his former partner to bow out so he can pursue the top job himself?

Not very often.

SECOND AMENDMENT UPDATE: Dennis Henigan and Robert Levy are debating the Second Amendment on C-SPAN at the moment. I've just watched for a few minutes, but the callers are giving Henigan hell.

MICKEY KAUS has identified The New York Times' full employment plan. It's a winner!

MERYL YOURISH takes on a critic from MetaFilter. This is pretty much barrelfishing, but it's kind of fun to watch. Excerpt:

There was no outrage from Todd on the attack of the bus filled with civilians only a couple of weeks ago. There were lots of posts by him insisting that the poor, downtrodden terrorists are only reacting to the evil wargmonger Sharon and those nasty "religious" settlers. Nothing on a five-year-old girl shot in her bed by a terrorist. After all, she was just one of those damned "settlers." I believe Damian Penny found the phrase you're looking for on nazimedia that's currently in vogue: "future land thief."

Let's see if I can predict what Todd would say about those last: "cycle of violence, yada yada yada, despair, no hope, occupation, yada yada yada."

I'll pass. It gets tiresome after a while, listening to people like Todd keep making excuses for murderers, and then getting on the case of those of us who refuse to do so. Funny. Gandhi and King made their points and changed their societies without resorting to murdering grandmothers and their grandchildren in an ice cream parlor. And yet, the Palestinians are all given a bye—by reasonable people like Todd.

Tiresome, indeed.

YOUR CHANCE TO ASK THE RIAA SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS: Eric Olsen is setting up a live, online interview.

August 05, 2002

MY USUALLY-RELIABLE MOLE was reliable again. The Tom Ricks article is now up on the Post's site and looks to be a page-one story in tomorrow's paper. Excerpt:

"The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader," stated the explosive briefing. It was presented on July 10 to the Defense Policy Board, a group of prominent intellectuals and former senior officials that advises the Pentagon on defense policy.

"Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies," said the briefing prepared by Laurent Murawiec, a Rand Corporation analyst. A talking point attached to the last of 24 briefing slides went even further, describing Saudi Arabia as "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East.

The briefing did not represent the views of the board or official government policy, and in fact runs counter to the present stance of the U.S. government that Saudi Arabia is a major ally in the region. Yet it also represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration – especially on the staff of Vice President Cheney and in the Pentagon's civilian leadership – and among neoconservative writers and thinkers closely allied with administration policymakers.

One administration official said opinion about Saudi Arabia is changing rapidly within the U.S. government. "People used to rationalize Saudi behavior," he said. "You don't hear that anymore. There's no doubt that people are recognizing reality and recognizing that Saudi Arabia is a problem."

Read it. It's likely to be the big story of the day tomorrow.

UPDATE: NZ Bear notes that Henry Kissinger dissents, but The Bear thinks Kissinger's, well, compromised.

DAVE WINER doesn't much like the Nick Denton post that I linked and quoted. I think Dave missed a bit of the tone in my reference to Nick "sounding like a warblogger now," as Nick was, for a long time, rather an anti-warblogger. But, as with Eric Alterman (who at times has been more warbloggerish than the warbloggers) Nick has recognized some unpleasant truths. And if the term "warblogger" means anything at all (and I'm not sure it does) recognizing unpleasant truths about war and self-defense is at the core of it.

Dave isn't there yet. Nick wrote that the only thing that will change current hardline Arab culture is the humiliation of an unmistakable abject defeat. Dave replies: "Dangerous stuff. Watch out for the humiliation, that's where holocausts come from." No. At most, that's where the desire to perpetrate holocausts comes from.

But the hardline Arabs (who are the ones calling the shots pretty much everywhere) already have the desire to perpetrate a holocaust, as has been made abundantly clear. They merely lack the means. The mentality we're dealing with isn't Germany in 1914. It's more like Germany in 1939. And that Germany was in dire need of abject defeat and humiliation, the sooner the better.

UPDATE: I just noticed that Nick has already replied to Dave: "One could equally well say, to paraphrase Winer: watch out for appeasement, that's where holocausts come from."

RECOGNIZING THE ENEMY: One of my generally reliable moles reports that tomorrow's Washington Post will feature a piece by Tom Ricks on Saudi Arabia as the enemy. Ricks will report that a "top Pentagon advisory panel" has characterized Saudi Arabia as an enemy, and recommends that it be given an ultimatum: stop supporting terror or face seizure of the oil fields and of financial assets in the United States. The report isn't an official position, but reflects what Ricks characterizes as a view with growing currency in the Bush Administration.

Sounds like someone's getting a clue.

VICTIMS OF TERROR -- a rather moving CNN page. Or, rather, pages.

IS IRAN BURNING? Glenn Frazier is reporting lots of antigovernment violence and disruptions. Not much elsewhere yet. Stay tuned.

JIM HENLEY fact-checks Kurt Loder's ass, with a little help from The Boss.

LOSS OF PRIVACY DOESN'T TRANSLATE INTO MORE SECURITY, or vice versa, warns TI senior fellow Gene Frantz, according to this report from the Electrical Engineering Times. Thanks to reader Tom Morin for the link.

SECOND AMENDMENT UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has more criticism of the Washington Post's lame editorial referenced below. And there's also a post on the Volokh Conspiracy webpage from Sasha Volokh, explaining some things about guns that get left out of most media discussion.

And, finally, in a Volokh trifecta, another post adds this point:

By the way, note also that the Washington Post article mentioned below mentioned the "gun lobby." I wonder: Would they have called NARAL and other groups on NARAL's side of the issue the "abortion lobby"? Would they have called the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press the "press lobby"? Would they have called the NAACP the "black lobby"?

I somehow doubt it.

Yep. So do I.

THIS PIECE BY ANDREA DWORKIN starts to look like it's going to make sense -- but she pulls off a save at the end. I knew you could do it, Andrea!

SECOND AMENDMENT UPDATE: TalkLeft -- apparently part of the growing (or at least more visible) gun-friendly left wing -- says I was right to criticize the Washington Post's dumb gun editorial today.

BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: Well, it's one bellicose woman, really: Anh Duong, explosives expert for the Naval Research Center, who took the lead in developing thermobaric cave- and bunker-busting bombs. Excerpts:

Much of the world would gasp. Greenpeace called it inhumane; a Russian geologist blamed it for deadly earthquakes; critics would dub the weapon "thermo-barbaric" - so unfathomably lethal that it should never have been created.

Fulfilling an obligation

But, for Duong, a former refugee from Vietnam who came to the United States in 1975 and studied science in Maryland's public schools and universities, it would fulfill an obligation that she had pledged to repay her whole adult life.

When she settled in Maryland 27 years ago, Duong promised herself she would fight for the principles of her adopted homeland. And now, if all went as planned, the BLU-118/B would slice into a tunnel in the Afghan mountains, unleash the chemically engineered hell that she and the rest of the country's top explosives experts had wrought, and America's enemies would die.

"It was different than anything we had done before," said Duong. "Not making a new explosive; we've done that. But having a purpose - knowing where it was going and what it was going to be used for. This was one of the proudest achievements of my life. Not just professionally, but personally. We were fighting a war. And it was the chance for me to give something back to the country that had adopted me so generously." . . .

A slight woman with a broad smile, Duong becomes fiery when she talks about America and opportunity, and the history that has made her appreciate her home with such passion.

"I had this ideal of mine, and I wanted, in some way, to get involved in the fight for freedom, to preserve this great country that had taken me in," Duong said. "Working for the U.S. Defense Department seemed like the right thing. I felt like I could do something good there."

Yet another reason to be in favor of immigration -- so long, at any rate, as it's immigrants like Duong, who come here to be Americans.

UPDATE: Reader Thanh Nguyen writes:

Some day, it might go down into history that OBL died at the hands of a bunch of American female scientists! How ironic!

I am so proud of Anh Duong. In Vietnamese, her name means "a ray of sunlight". Well, she turned out to be a very lethal ray of sunlight indeed for cave-dwelling OBL and his terror gang, who represent the darkness of evil.

It would be ironic. Delightfully so.

DAVE KOPEL'S (AND ROBERT RACANSKY'S) GUN CONTROL FOR COPS PROPOSAL is looking better all the time:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Five agencies under Justice Department jurisdiction, including the FBI and DEA, have reported 775 missing or stolen weapons and 400 missing laptop computers, says a report released Monday.

Some of the weapons were used to commit crimes and the classification level of 218 of the missing laptops is unknown, said the audit report by the department's Office of Inspector General, an internal investigative unit.

The bulk of the missing weapons belonged to the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The report noted that "it is possible that the missing laptop computers would have been used to process and store national security or sensitive law enforcement information that, if divulged, could harm the public."

Before last year, the FBI had not taken a complete inventory of laptops and weapons in almost a decade, despite an agency policy requiring such an inventory be taken every two years, said Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

Well, that certainly relieves my concerns about Homeland Security.

THE WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL BOARD EMBARRASSES ITSELF AGAIN with this extraordinarily lame editorial on the Second Amendment. The editorial attacks Attorney General John Ashcroft for adopting an individual-right view of the Second Amendment, using a particular case (in which a Maryland man, licensed to carry in Maryland, was arrested for carrying a gun in D.C.) as its springboard.

Here's the dumbest passage, from among many candidates:

Our point is simply that the government cannot both embrace an individual rights view of the Second Amendment and prosecute people for wielding guns.

Well, the Post here seems to lose sight of the distinction between carrying a gun and "wielding" it, something that seems rather crucial. More importantly -- as the editors of the Post would know if they bothered to read anything on the Second Amendment beyond (suspiciously similar) press releases from the Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center, both of whom incestuously feature a lot of Post editorials on their webpages -- prosecution for illegally carrying guns doesn't violate the right to keep and bear arms anyway. Scholarship on the Second Amendment is almost completely in agreement on this point. Nor is that all.

The vast majority of states have state constitutional provisions protecting the right to keep and bear arms, yet -- even in states where the provisions are treated as fundamental rights getting the highest protections -- "carrying" weapons in public is treated differently from owning them. So there's no inherent conflict in Ashcroft's position at all. The Post is just, once again, gullibly recycling sound bites from gun-control activists, and diminishing its already-limited credibility on this subject still further.

Had the Post's editorial writer even bothered to read the academic articles cited in Ashcroft's letter stating his position on the Second Amendment, or the sources in this letter from eighteen state attorneys general supporting Ashcroft, he/she would have known that the editorial was nonsense. Which makes me wonder: is the Post really this clueless on a subject it editorializes about so often? Or do the editors of the Post simply not care about the truth?

UPDATE: Hey, maybe this is why, as Howard Kurtz reports, the press's reputation is in the toilet. Well, given that three quarters of Americans support Ashcroft's position, the Post's effort to portray it as outlandish certainly can't be helping.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Asking "Are all the Post editors on vacation?" Mickey Kaus finds another example of the Post falling for bogus interest-group spin. Maybe they should just print the advocacy-group pressreleases directly, with the contact numbers so we'll know who to call if we have any questions.

Kaus, who's on a roll today, also identifies a major Krugman error, which Krugman has only corrected on his webpage, presumably next to the item about rhinoceri, and not in the Times where it appeared. Interestingly, in the poll cited by Howard Kurtz, above, most Americans thought Big Media were lousy at correcting errors. Looks like they're right again.

I GOT AN EMAIL FROM A U.S. MARINE with an Arabic-sounding name. It was the very first abusive email I've ever gotten from someone in the military -- and I'm pretty sure this guy really was a Marine, because it came from a USMC domain, though I suppose he could be a civilian employee just pretending. Why was I so hard on Syria, he demanded to know. Syria's never done anything to us. It's all the fucking jews' fault that we're having these problems anyway.

The guy didn't include his rank, which I hope is low. But if you're reading this post, buddy, then read this.

UPDATE: Okay, a bunch of people have emailed me to say that I should publish the guy's name and email. Well, it's not like I promised him confidentiality. He didn't even ask for it. On the other hand, I looked him up and discovered that he's a lance corporal (though, believe it or not, in a Public Affairs unit! -- thanks to the miracle of Google I've even got his CO's direct number). Anyway, it's not like this is a guy wielding a lot of discretion, and I think he was just popping off. So I don't think I should publish the information, even though I'd certainly be within my rights to do so. Here's the letter, in its entirety (you can see that my earlier paraphrase, er, cleaned it up a bit):

WHATS WRONG WITH SYRIA.. COCKSUCKER.. THERE NOT DOING ANYTHING TO YOU... STOP SUPPORTING THE JEWS. AND AMERICA WOULDNT BE IN THIS MESS..

This certainly isn't boosting my opinion of the Marines, but I've known enough Marines in my time that I'm not going to generalize here, either. Any Marines out there think I'm handling this wrong?

BOBBY FISCHER may be spouting anti-American claptrap from some hideyhole somewhere, but Garry Kasparov -- who can also kick Fischer's lardy ass around any chessboard anywhere -- sees things rather differently:

America's European allies will join the action against Saddam Hussein, or at least not openly oppose it. But the pressure will be strong to then declare the war won and the offensive stage over. That would be disastrous.

Those who instigated the current war must remember that Coventry and Pearl Harbor backfired on Dresden and Hiroshima. There will be no peace in Gaza, no freedom from fear in Jerusalem, until we have prosecuted the war on terror in Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus and elsewhere. U.S. leadership saved Europe from fascism and communism. It is again the last hope.

Smart guy.

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN COPYRIGHT LAW (and people today should have the same interest in copyright law that sheep have in shears, or steers have in mallets) then you'll want to read this piece by law professor Tom W. Bell. Bell says that modern copyright law is corporate welfare -- and calls for welfare reform.

I'VE MISSED TAPPED. They promise me that it'll be back with new stuff later this morning. About time! Individual bloggers going on vacation is one thing, but you'd think that huge media organizations flush with cash would have substitute bloggers for their house blogs.

MATT DRUDGE has picked up on the Ted Turner land grab story. Still no word from Doonesbury (which is savaging only Republican billionaires today), Michael Moore, Molly Ivins, et al.

UPDATE: Reader Ken Summers writes:

Apparently, Mr. Trudeau doesn't realize (or doesn't care and has decided to lie about it) that most of the bigwig dotcommers were Democrats. Gray Davis took in a hell of a lot of money from Silicon Valley, and not just from Larry "The Dumpster" Ellison.

Funny, that. My guess is that this is based on ignorance, not dishonesty -- Doonesbury seems to have been stuck in 1981 for, oh, about 21 years. But it's lame either way -- which Doonesbury has also been for about the same length of time.

Me, I wish he'd take out after Joe Biden, Fritz Hollings, Harold Berman, and all the other corporate-whoring Dems who are carrying the entertainment industry's water in exchange for huge campaign contributions. But I'm not holding my breath. Trudea is One Of Them now, even though he pretends not to be.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeez, did I say stuck in 1981? Judging by this strip from yesterday he's stuck in 1971! Next we'll see Ahmed, the cute'n'friendly Al Qaeda terrorist, a rehash of Phred, the cute'n'friendly Viet Cong.

In retrospect, knowing what we know about the Viet Cong, Phred was equivalent to Horst, the cute'n'friendly brownshirt. But Trudeau seems to be a living embodiment of Baby Boomer generational narcissism.

August 04, 2002

NICK DENTON is sounding like a warblogger today:

But there's a much more basic reason to crush Saddam Hussein's regime. The Islamic world -- mainly the Arab Islamic world -- needs to realize that it has failed. Medieval Islam cannot compete with liberal capitalism either economically or culturally. Unfortunately, that message has taken several hundred years to filter through. There is nothing like cataclysmic military defeat to teach the lesson more rapidly.

One could point at the examples of Japan and Germany after the Second World War. But the Muslim world provides its own case study. Ottoman Turkey only began to pay attention to Western science and organization after its first serious military defeats at the hands of Austria and Russia in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The US needs to destroy Saddam Hussein's regime because he's a bad man, sure, because he may conceivably be connected with Al-Qaeda, because he's developing weapons of mass destruction, because a friendly Iraq would alter the balance of power in the Middle East, sure, because of all of that. But the US needs to destroy Saddam Hussein's regime mainly because the West needs to humiliate the Arab world, and dispel the Islamic millenial fantasy.

He's right of course, and I suspect (and hope) the Bush Administration has thought of all this. It's just politically incorrect to say it.

But why? The people who would object are always saying that it's a good learning experience when the United States is humiliated.

MILITARY STYLE OPERATIONS are fine when you are protecting animals and tropical hardwoods... no matter what hardship it might produce for locals just trying to eke out a living. But don't get distracted by trying to help, you know, actual people. At least, that seems to be the subtext of this New York Times Magazine story on "Eco-Mercenaries."

UPDATE: Suman Palit has some thoughts on this. He notes that these NGOs are in many countries more powerful (but no more accountable) than the governments.

A piece in the July/August Atlantic Monthly (not available online unless you pay) called "The Internationals" points up the neo-colonial angle as well, and notes that the new version is in once sense worse: colonial officials a hundred years ago often spent years or decades in the countries they administered. Aid workers now spend a few months. I guess it's kind of like the "ticket punching" system for officers that was employed with such great success by the U.S. military in Vietnam. . . .

HARVARD LAW SCHOOL'S SHOOTING CLUB, along with a similar club at Mount Holyoke, are featured in this surprisingly sympathetic article in The Boston Globe:

Alexander ''Sasha'' Volokh, who describes himself as ''a bit of a troublemaker'' and a supporter of gun rights, admits he was trying to create a stir when he founded the Harvard Law School Target Shooting Club last fall. To his surprise, his club was not drummed off campus but instead attracted 120 members, 100 from the law school and 20 undergraduates.

''The administration hasn't given me any grief,'' said Volokh, a third-year law student from West Hollywood, Calif. The club recently received $300 from the university's activities fund.

The Harvard shooting club took four field trips last year to a gun range in Manchester, N.H., and hosted a talk by John Lott, a researcher with data that he says show that concealed-weapons laws deter crime. Volokh said he plans to screen the film ''Red Dawn'' because it portrays young people using guns as ''a force for good.''

There's a sea change in attitudes going on.

CORRUPTION AND HUNGER: Paul O'Neill may be onto something. Brian Carnell has a fascinating chart linking government corruption with famine in Africa. And El Sur reports that although Brazilians were offended by perceived stereotyping in O'Neill's comments about Swiss bank accounts, 80 % of Argentines thought he was right.

BRITAIN: A haven for radical Islam's war against the West, says the Christian Science Monitor.

PUNDITWATCH IS UP! And pundits today were hopping on the defend-Paul-O'Neill bandwagon. Imagine that.

WHY THERE ARE NO "ELITE" IRAQI SOLDIERS -- a trenchant analysis by Donald Sensing.

TED TURNER LAND GRAB UPDATE: Now the NAACP and a South Carolina legislator are siding with the slave-descended black landowners whose land Turner is claiming. This is on top of the Associated Press story that ran yesterday, as well as earlier accounts from local papers, and a story in The Black News.

We still haven't head anything from Michael Moore, Doonesbury, or Molly Ivins, all of whom seem strangely uninterested in the story of a rich white billionaire trying to gain control of land held by the descendants of slaves.

OMBUDSGOD, who I should read more often, has a sharp critique of the Washington Post's self-justification for publishing military secrets. My question: would the Post or the Times be satisfied if (other) big corporations were policed only by an internal "ombudsman" whose policing consisted mostly of publishing self-justifying columns once a week?

MAC THOMASON reflects:

I don't know if hanging out with Iran's government makes the Saudis look bad, or if hanging with the Sauds makes Iran look bad. Or if both are so irredeemably awful that it doesn't matter.

Now that is a poser, but I'm going to go with the "irredeemably awful" choice.

THE INDEPUNDIT RESPONDS to claims of insensitivity toward Arabs and Muslims.

I HEARD A NEWS ITEM ON ALL THINGS CONSIDERED LAST WEEK about Paul O'Neill and Brazil. It ended with a line by reporter Martin Kaste about how O'Neill's worries that economic aid might wind up in "Swiss bank accounts" went over badly. "For most South Americans," Kaste reported, "that coment only confirmed their suspicions about the ruthlessness of American-style capitalism." (Here's the link to the archive page with the report. The line occurs at 4:01 into the report. You can stream audio directly from this link.)


Kaste, having gotten in his little dig, said no more. But I wondered -- if O'Neill's worries that development aid would be stolen were "ruthless," what would count as "compassionate?" (Sorry, I can't explain what the "capitalism" part has to do with this discussion of government-to-government aid at all, except to conclude that it's there as a synonym for "policy promulgated by a Republican" -- but at NPR, that's probably close enough).

Anyway, I guess this is what Kaste would prefer to O'Neill's ruthless desire for aid money to go to the people it's intended for:

Swazi King Sparks Anger by Buying $55 Million Jet
Reuters

MBABANE - The king of the impoverished southern African nation of Swaziland, where about 250,000 people need urgent food aid, has sparked outrage by buying a $55 million private jet.

Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini told parliament this week a 20 million emalangeni ($1.96 million) down payment for the luxury plane was taken from development funds for projects aimed at making Swaziland economically self-sufficient.

"The plane's price is more than twice the 192 million emalangeni the United Nations is asking in emergency relief from donor organizations to keep about a quarter of a million Swazis from starving this year," Member of Parliament Nthuthuko Dlamini told Reuters on Saturday.

Aid agencies say up to 13 million people in Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia face a looming famine because of drought and government mismanagement.

The luxury Global Express jet, made by Canada's Bombardier Inc., is worth about a quarter of the landlocked country's national budget of 2.4 billion emalangeni. . . .

That mean old Paul O'Neill. No wonder they hate him so much.

(Swazi link via Dawson).

TONY WOODLIEF responds to critics of his airport-revolt piece, and savages those who propound heterosexist stereotypes.

STEVEN DEN BESTE dissects a number of specious anti-war arguments.

What I find interesting is how difficult it is for most people to be antiwar without being anti-American. Some people manage, but it's a surprisingly small number.

WELL, this isn't very encouraging.

MORE ON THE MOHAMMED ATTA / IRAQ CONNECTION, from Fred Barnes.

HASHEMITE RESTORATION? Or obliteration? More likely the latter, if this story is true. Whether it is, I don't know -- but if it is, then the consequences to Abdullah need to be lethal. We're going to be working in that region for some time, and people need to understand the price of crossing us. It's been too low in the past.

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